Engagement in Religious Education: Focusing on Spiritual and Religious Capabilities

  • Christine RobinsonEmail author
  • Chris Hackett


Religious education in Catholic schools in Western Australia is considered to be the ‘first’ learning area (Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia [CECWA], Mandate of the Catholic education commission of Western Australia 2009–2015, 2009a). This learning area is a classroom-based activity with a significant emphasis on student understanding of content.


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2017). Religion in Australia, 2016. Retrieved from
  2. Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2013). General capabilities in the Australian curriculum. Retrieved from
  3. Büssing, A., Föller-Mancini, A., Gidley, J., & Heusser, P. (2010). Aspects of spirituality in adolescents. International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 15(1), 25–44. Scholar
  4. Catechism of the Catholic Church. (1993). Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.Google Scholar
  5. Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia. (2009a). Mandate of the Catholic education commission of Western Australia 2009–2015. Retrieved from
  6. Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia. (2009b). Mandate of the Catholic education commission of Western Australia 2009–2015: Parents, carers and families. Retrieved from
  7. Congregation for Catholic Education. (1977). The Catholic school. Retrieved from
  8. Congregation for Catholic Education. (1982). Lay Catholic in schools: Witnesses to faith. Retrieved from
  9. Cook, T. J., & Symonds, T. A. (2011). The charism of 21st-century Catholic schools: Building a culture of relationships. Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice, 14(3), 319–333.Google Scholar
  10. D’Orsa, J., & D’Orsa, T. (2012). Catholic curriculum: A mission to the heart of young people. Mulgrave, VIC: Vaughan Publishing.Google Scholar
  11. Davidson, M. (2014). A character education research perspective for the 21st century. Journal of Character Education, 10(1), 7–83.Google Scholar
  12. Dixon, R., Reid, S., & Chee, M. (2013). Mass attendance in Australia: A critical moment. A report based on the National Count of Attendance, the National Church Life Survey and the Australian census. Retrieved from
  13. de Souza, M. (2016). Spirituality in education in a global, pluralised world. New York: Routledge Research in Education.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gidley, J. (2005). Giving hope back to our young people: Creating a new spiritual mythology for western culture. Journal of Futures Studies: Epistemology, Methods, Applied and Alternative Futures, 9, 17–30.Google Scholar
  15. Good, M., & Willoughby, T. (2008). Adolescence as a sensitive period for spiritual development. Child Development Perspectives, 2(1), 32–37. Retrieved from
  16. Grajconek, J., Ryan M., & Chambers, M. (2007). Inclusion of students who are not Catholics in Catholic schools: Policy, practices and problems. Retrieved from
  17. Hay, D., & Nye, R. (2006). The spirit of the child (Revised edition). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
  18. Kids Helpline. (2016). Insights 2016: Insights into young people in Australia. Retrieved from
  19. King, P. E., & Roeser, R. W. (2009). Religion and spirituality in adolescent development. In R. M. Lerner and L. Steinberg (Eds.). Handbook of adolescent psychology. New Jersey: Wiley,
  20. Lawrence, D., Johnson, S., Hafekost, J., Boterhoven de Haan, K., Sawyer, M., Ainley, J., & Zubrick, S. R. (2015). The mental health of children and adolescents. Report on the second Australian child and adolescent survey of mental health and wellbeing. Retrieved from
  21. Lucas, B. (2017). Community, belonging and identity: Young people and mission. In Mission and Spirituality News. Retrieved September 4, 2017 from–belonging-and-identity–young-people-and-mission-by-fr-brian-lucas.
  22. McDougall, B. (2016). Catholic schools: Almost one third of students are from outside the faith. In The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved from
  23. McGunnigle, C., & Hackett, C. (2015). Spiritual and religious capabilities for Catholic schools. eJournal of Catholic Education in Australasia, 2(1), Article 6. Retrieved from
  24. Miller, L. (2015). The spiritual knock at the door [Youtube]. Retrieved June 26, 2015 from
  25. Miller, L., & Barker, T. (2016). The spiritual child: The new science on parenting for health and lifelong thriving. USA: Picador.Google Scholar
  26. Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute. (2016). Youth mental health report: Youth survey 2012–16. Retrieved from:
  27. National Catholic Education Commission. (2015). Annual Report. Retrieved from
  28. O’Leary, D. (2008). Begin with the heart…Recovering a sacramental vision. Dublin: Columba Press.Google Scholar
  29. Pope Francis. (2013). Apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium of the Holy Father Francis to the bishops, clergy, consecrated persons and the lay faithful on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world. Retrieved from
  30. Pope Francis. (2015). Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to members of the Italian union of Catholic school teachers, managers, educators and trainers. Retrieved from
  31. Porche, M., Fortuna, L., Wachholtz, A., & Torres Stone, R. (2015). Distal and proximal religiosity as protective factors for adolescent and emerging adult alcohol use. Religions, 6, 365–384. Scholar
  32. Reid, D. (2011). Making space for religious education in the national curriculum. Religious Education Journal of Australia, 27(2), 10–15. Retrieved from;dn=231435431421988;res=IELHSS.
  33. Rossiter, G. (2010). A case for a ‘big picture’ re-orientation of K-12 Australian Catholic school religious education in the light of contemporary spirituality. Journal of Religious Education, 58(3), 5–18.Google Scholar
  34. Rymarz, R., & Graham, J. (2006). Australian core Catholic youth, Catholic schools and religious education. British Journal of Religious Education, 28(1), 79–89. Scholar
  35. Seligman, M. E. P., Ernst, R. M., Gillham, J., Reivich, K., & Larkins, M. (2009). Positive education: positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford Review of Education, 35(3), 293–311. Scholar
  36. Spiewak, G. S., & Sherrod, L. R. (2008). Possible interrelationships between civic engagement, positive youth development, and spirituality/religiosity. In R. M. Lerner, R. W. Roeser, & E. Phelps (Eds.), Positive youth development and spirituality: From theory to research (pp. 322–338). West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Foundation Press.Google Scholar
  37. Synod of Bishops, XV Ordinary General Assembly. (2017). Young people, the Faith and vocational discernment: Preparatory document. Retrieved from
  38. Walker, M. (2005). Higher education pedagogies. Berkshire, GBR: McGraw-Hill Education. Retrieved from
  39. Warren, A. E. A., Lerner, R. M., & Phelps, E. (Eds.). (2012). Thriving and spirituality among youth: Research perspectives and future possibilities. New Jersey: Wiley.Google Scholar
  40. Wright, K. (2015). From targeted interventions to universal approaches: Historicizing wellbeing. In K. Wright & J. McLeod (Eds.), Rethinking youth wellbeing: Critical perspectives. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Notre DameFremantleAustralia

Personalised recommendations